When film characters engage in a knock-down, drag-out fight, the audience usually assumes that the actors are faking the physical blows. Who would be wild enough to throw real punches in movies?
Unfortunately, some actors prefer authenticity to sanity. Instead of faking a blow for the camera, certain stars decide to really take a hit and lend some blood-soaked legitimacy to their acting. For example, Sylvester Stallone was known for taking real hits during his fight scenes in the Rocky film series. His tactic led to some of the best movie punches in film history, but it also resulted in some serious injuries for Stallone.
Other actors, however, aren't as committed to their craft. Instead, they're caught in the crosshairs of a high energy moment. While filming a fight scene, their co-star might slip up and land a real punch now and then. They certainly didn't sign up for the physical pain, but they refuse to break character and ruin an entire scene for a simple bump on the head.
Whether on purpose or by accident, take a look below at the movie fight scenes where characters threw real punches and decide for yourself if the pain was worth the finished product.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
When the Joker (Heath Ledger) is finally caught by police in The Dark Knight, an angry Batman (Christian Bale) shows up to interrogate him. The angrier Batman gets, however, the more Joker seems to enjoy it.
Ledger's total commitment to his role as the Joker was a huge topic of conversation after the film premiered. During the intense fight scene where Batman attacks his nemesis, Ledger asked Bale to hit him for real. In fact, he practically insisted.
Bale said that the fight would look just as good with fake punches, but Ledger encouraged him to actually make contact. After the scene was done filming, walls on the set were cracked and dented from Ledger willingly throwing himself into them.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
When he was just a teenager, Jackie Chan worked as a stuntman in Enter the Dragon. In one scene, fighters rushed Bruce Lee, who fended them all off with a stick.
When Chan rushed the actor, Lee accidentally hit him across the side of the head with a stick. He kept his cool and simply looked at Lee, who continued acting as if nothing had happened until the director said cut. After that, Lee rushed to Chan and apologized for the accidental blow. Although Chan says he recovered quickly, he pretended to be in pain to spend a little more time with his idol.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
While Fight Club is full of feigned violence, the first punch of the movie is actually real. As The Narrator (Edward Norton) chats with his newfound friend Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), Tyler asks The Narrator to hit him in the face.
Before filming the scene, the director told Norton to throw a real punch. Unsure where to hit his opponent, Norton swung and connected with Pitt's ear. Pitt stayed in character, but he did choke out a surprised, "You hit me in the ear! Why the ear, man?"
- Photo: The Weinstein Company
Jake Gyllenhaal refused to mess around when it came to his boxing movie, Southpaw. As Billy "The Great" Hope, Gyllenhaal plays an undefeated professional boxer who has to get his life back on track after losing his wife in an accident.
The movie is full of boxing matches, each of which features real punches. Gyllenhaal refused to use a stunt double and instead did every boxing scene himself. He took every punch and dealt with injuries and swelling throughout the course of the film, all to create a realistic movie.